Event-Based Surveillance Curriculum

Preparing health officials for effective early warning and response actions

The ability to take prompt and effective action to contain threats to national and global health security depends on the ability of public health surveillance systems to provide early warning of outbreaks and other events. Event-based surveillance (EBS), the use of unstructured information from domestic and international sources, is an integral part of a comprehensive surveillance system. By collecting and analyzing data beyond what is available from routine indicator-based surveillance, countries can provide early warning of events that threaten national, regional, and global health security.

The indicators for the full implementation of the International Health Regulations described in the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Joint External Evaluation (JEE) tool include the development of integrated systems for EBS and routine indicator-based surveillance to provide early warning of emerging threats to public and veterinary health from a variety of sources. Many countries face challenges in implementing EBS systems effectively.

To address some of these challenges, the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown developed a structured user-friendly EBS curriculum designed to prepare health officials at the national and sub-national levels to use formal and informal reports for early warning and response. The training modules were developed collaboratively with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and aligned with guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO). These modules were successfully pilot-tested in three countries – Cambodia, Uganda, and Vietnam – in collaborative workshops to provide an introduction to the use of diverse sources of electronic information from domestic and international sources for epidemic intelligence in the context of country-led EBS plans and protocols. Participant feedback on the course was incorporated iteratively into the training materials and used to improve the utility of the final version. The curriculum and all training materials, including participant guides, facilitator guides, and presentations, are publicly available online (new window).

Acknowledgements: The materials in these training modules are based on the “Standard Operating Procedures: Handbook for Event-based Surveillance” developed by from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Global Disease Detection Operations Center (CDC/GDDOC). This resource is intended to be used in conjunction with interim guidance provided by WHO. We are grateful to partners and colleagues for their feedback and support of this project, including:  WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ministry of Health-Cambodia, the Ministry of Health-Uganda, the Ministry of Health-Vietnam, and the Uganda Virus Research Institute. This project was funded with support from the Skoll Global Threats Fund. To learn more, please visit www.endingpandemics.org.